What emotion fills you when you hear the following words: “budget,” “savings,” “investing,” “spreadsheets,” and “insurance?” Some of you probably felt your hearts beat just a little bit faster. Money and the managing of it brings a joyful spring to your step. You enjoy charts, graphs, and keeping a sharp eye on your bank accounts and investment portfolio. Others of you probably read the phrase “managing money” in the title and immediately ran for cover. After all, we aren’t all financial nerds.
Those who love dealing with finances are typically proud of their nerd status. Those who don’t love managing money can be quite skittish around software such as Quicken or Microsoft Excel (when managing a budget), and probably fall asleep in benefit meetings at work.
Whether you are, as Dave Ramsey says, a nerd or free spirit, it’s important to understand the basics of managing money before you get married. Hopefully, your parents taught you what you need to know; but, if not, you can gather this information on your own (and fairly painlessly too!).
You can ask mentors about money management. Take a class. You can read up about financial concepts online (e.g., investing, budgeting, etc.). Most of us have some knowledge of how money works (we’re good at spending it, anyway!), so take a few minutes and write down what you do know about how many works (e.g., financing a car will cost me more in the long run than paying for it in cash, etc.). After that, make a list of questions you have about money. It may help you to create sections of questions (e.g., budgeting section, home purchase section, investing section, etc.).
It does not take a financial wizard to be a husband or a wife, but you will be a huge blessing to your future spouse if you know enough about money to run a financially stable household, take care of a family, and plan for the future. Before getting married, I recommend that you have a working knowledge of budgeting, how to balance a checkbook, the steps to purchase a home or car, and the importance of saving early. In addition to these topics, I would recommend that you have a basic knowledge of investing, insurance, and filing taxes. Investing and insurance can be intimidating, so take it a step at a time. And, make sure you get your facts from a reliable source! Not everyone in the financial realm agrees on how money should be handled. You may choose to have an accountant handle your taxes (and that’s fine), but it’s still important to know what
documentation you need and how to organize it. You may even want to do your own taxes with tax software (Eric has used TurboTax for the last several years and loves it).
Something I adore about my husband is his monetary responsibility. There have been times I wished he was less detailed with money (e.g., when I want to spend ridiculous amounts of money on Christmas gifts, etc.); however, overall, it has been so nice to have a spouse who cares enough to budget and plan ahead. It fills our lives with a great sense of comfort and peace.
When we were first married, we took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class and it tremendously blessed our lives. We loved it so much, we led four classes ourselves! The cost is per family unit and you can go through the class as many times as you’d like once you’ve bought the kit (it’s a lifetime membership!). Engaged couples can share a kit if their wedding date is less than a year from the time they take the class. Ramsey covers an array of monetary topics in a humorous, easy to understand way; and, if it seems like he places too much emphasis on wealth, remember that he is a huge advocate of giving to others and being in a financial position to help others in need. Eric and I also devote a full session to help our couples learn how to manage their money well in our pre-engagement program. We would love for you to check it out!
The time you spend learning about finances before getting married will be well worth it once you cross the threshold into your new life together. If you aren’t currently in a relationship, it’s still a good idea to strengthen your financial muscles. No matter when you get married, it’s wise for all adults to understand how money works!
On a scale of 1-10 (1 being “I know nothing” and 10 being “There’s nothing left to learn”), how much financial knowledge do you have currently?